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April 16, 2013 / Leslie

Review – Audiobook: Bristol House by Beverly Swerling

Bristol House by Beverly SwerlingBristol House
by Beverly Swerling
Narrated by Kristen Sieh, James Langton and Kristen Colson,

Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Publish Date: April 4, 2013
Format: Audio, 13 hours | 3 minutes
Audio Listening Level: Intermediate
Rating: 4 of 5

Publisher’s Synopsis:

This riveting dual-period narrative seamlessly blends a haunting supernatural thriller with vivid historical fiction. Beverly Swerling, widely acclaimed for her City of Dreams series, delivers a bewitching and epic story of a historian and a monk, half a millennium apart, whose destinies are on a collision course.

My Thoughts:

Annie Kendall has begun a three month research project in London to locate long missing artifacts for Shalom Foundation. Days into her research she meets Geoff Harris, an investigative reporter, and discovers the flat she is subletting is haunted by a ghost that appears to be trying to contact her to warn her about something. The story moves back and forth between Annie in the present and 1535 Tudor London where Dom Justin, Carthusian Monk, narrates an intertwining tale.

Within days Annie feels an attraction to Geoff and finds the feeling are mutual. The romance was handled well with just enough detail to keep the reader interested but not so much that it distracts from the plot or the action. Annie’s background was a little unbelievable but certainly possible. As a recovering alcoholic with serious issues, she managed to pull herself together quickly, but that served to make her a more likeable character and one I could root for.

I don’t know much about Tudor England or Carthusian Monks so I can’t comment on the historical accuracy, but the skillfully woven plot made for an interesting and compelling tale. There is a lot going on in the story and I wouldn’t say it’s an easy read, but once the characters were clear in my mind it flowed nicely and became more compelling as the suspense built.

I listened to the audio and found it moderately easy to follow the often complex plot; this is an audio that does require paying close attention. I usually prefer an ensemble cast when there are a lot of characters or shifts in time period as in this novel, and it worked well except for the actress performing the voice of Annie. Her dialog felt choppy at times and I found it difficult to get into the flow when she was speaking. When the second actress, the voice of the narrator, spoke, the rhythm returned. When we shifted to the past James Langton skillfully performed the voices of the Monk and the Jew of Holborn.

I had not listened to any of the narrators before so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but overall I can recommend the audio with the few reservations mentioned above. There is an audio sample available and I recommend giving it a listen to decide for yourself.

Historical fiction fans will enjoy this book with its nice mix of history, a light romance and a suspenseful ending.

Source: Review copy
© 2013 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.


Leave a Comment
  1. Suko / Apr 16 2013 12:34 pm

    This sounds good, Leslie. Thanks for your honest review of this audio book.


  2. BermudaOnion / Apr 16 2013 3:34 pm

    Hm, if the plot is complex, I prefer to experience the book in print.


  3. Diane@BibliophilebytheSea / Apr 16 2013 7:30 pm

    I have the print edition, but have not had time for it. Glad the audio was pretty good.


  4. Mary / Apr 16 2013 9:42 pm

    I have a feeling the print edition would be the way for me to go with this one. Glad you liked it!


  5. Laurie C / Apr 19 2013 4:51 pm

    I don’t think this one is for me, but it was good to read your review!


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